Despite living without fluoridated water, rural children’s cavity rates equal those of urban children, who are more likely to drink fluoridated water, according to a large national government study of over 24,000 U.S. children, ages 2- to 17-year-old.(1)
Poor children, whether from rural or urban areas, are more likely to have cavities and least likely to find dentists willing to fill those cavities, report researchers Vargas et al. in the Summer 2003 Journal of Rural Health(1).
Researchers, surprised by fluoridation‘s apparent ineffectiveness write, “The lack of difference in caries (cavities) prevalence between rural and urban children is puzzling…, children residing in rural areas are more likely than urban children to use well water which usually has a low fluoride content,” report Vargas and colleagues
“Differences were present by poverty status; poor children aged 2 – 10 years have double the mean number of teeth with caries experience compared with non-poor children,” they write.
“In both rural and urban areas, poor children were more than twice as likely to have untreated decay,” the authors reveal.
(Fluoridation) “is not feasible for most rural areas because of small water treatment plants or dependence on well water.” the authors report. Rural areas are defined by the Bureau of Census as areas with less than 2500 inhabitants.
“This doesn’t surprise us,” says lawyer Paul Beeber, President, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc. “Cavity rates decline equally in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities and countries along with the rise in better overall nutrition and health,” he said. “Over 66% of US citizens drink fluoridated water yet tooth decay is an epidemic among our poorer populations, most of whom drink fluoridated water and can’t afford to buy non-fluoridated bottled water,” he said.
Tooth decay is a symptom of poverty and/or poor nutrition not fluoridation status. Fluoride is non-essential to cavity-free teeth, and should never be in anyone’s water supply.
Most legislators want to believe that water fluoridation is an innocuous, simple, cheap and politically correct way to tackle poor children’s tooth decay. But, by avoiding the complexity involved in finding and/or paying dentists to actually treat the poor, legislators ignore the real problem.
Diet is the only consistent difference between those with and those without cavities. Fluoride makes no difference if a child goes to bed hungry everyday. Fluoride makes no difference if a child’s belly is satisfied with cheap chips and soda because fresh produce is too expensive. Fluoride makes no difference when middle class children sip sodas and eat junk food every day.
(1) Journal of Rural Health, Summer 2003, “Oral Health Status of Children and Adolescents by Rural Residence, United States.” by Clemencia M. Vargas, DDS, PhD; Cynthia R. Ronzio, PhD; and Kathy L. Hayes, DMD, MPH